Dr. Martin Thiel

“Monitoreando los Océanos del Mundo – Porque la participación de los Científicos Ciudadanos es fundamental”

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Martin Thiel received his education in zoology, marine science and oceanography at the universities of Kiel (Germany) and Maine (USA), respectively. He is currently full professor of Marine Biology at Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) in Coquimbo, Chile. His main research interests are in the behavioral ecology of marine invertebrates and the functioning of marine communities. Together with his students he has studied the reproductive biology of a variety of free-living and symbiotic crustaceans, and the community dynamics in biotic habitats (mussel and ascidian beds, algal turfs and kelp forests). Research activities of his study group center on marine ecology and coastal biogeography (see www.bedim.cl). One key research topic is rafting dispersal. While the research focuses mainly on floating kelps, the ubiquity of floating marine debris and the complete lack of scientific information about debris abundances and sources from the SE Pacific led his team to include this topic in their investigations.

In order to fill the knowledge gaps about marine debris in Chile and share the information with local communities and the general public, in 2007 together with colleagues and students he founded the program «Cientificos de la Basura» (Litter Scientists: www.cientificosdelabasura.cl). This initiative is a research collaboration between scientists and schoolchildren with the goal of characterizing and understanding the problem of marine debris. The network of Cientificos de la Basura annually connects about 40 schools from the entire Chilean coast (>4000 km coastline, including the oceanic islands), which collaboratively investigate all aspects (abundance, distribution, sources, potential impacts) of marine debris.

Martin has guided about 60 students (undergraduate, MSc, PhD) in their thesis research, published about 200 scientific publications, and edited several books, mostly on crustaceans. He is also interested in the broader aspects of citizen science collaborations and science outreach.

Filiación: Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile